Category Archives: Houston Aeros

First Cutdown Day: Wild Assigns Nine

Wednesday morning brought the first round of cuts for the Minnesota Wild. The roster was trimmed from 56 to 47 with nine players being assigned to Houston or their respective junior teams.

Three players under contract – forwards Joel Broda, Justin Fontaine and D Kyle Medvec – have been assigned to the Houston Aeros. Tryout players D Sam Lofquist and RW Mike Kramer also have been assigned to the Aeros training camp.

The four players assigned to their junior teams were 2011 seventh round draft pick, C Tyler Graovac (Ottawa/OHL), as well defensemen Colton Jobke (Kelowna/WHL) and Josh Caron (Kamloops/WHL) and tryout forward Carter Sandlak (Belleville/OHL).

Few of the moves come as a surprise, as none of the nine players participated in the weekend scrimmages or Tuesday night’s preseason game in Edmonton.  The majority of cuts will come following a stretch of three games in three nights beginning tomorrow in St. Louis.

“Becoming Wild” Presented By Toyota Debuts Tonight On FSN

The first of six “Becoming Wild” presented by Toyota episodes will debut tonight on Fox Sports North following another Minnesota Twins pummeling of the Chicago White Sox.

Tonight’s episode begins immediately after the last Wild season ended on a somber note with the dismissal of Head Coach Todd Richards. The episode focuses on the Houston Aeros, and in particular Head Coach Mike Yeo as he readies his team for a crucial game against the Milwaukee Admirals in the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

Keep in mind that this footage was shot well before Yeo was offered or even interviewed for the Wild head job. But in under a half hour, you should get a strong sense for his ability to communicate with his players in a multitude of situations. Certainly, the climax of the episode will be his addressing his team during a timeout after his team fell behind 3-0 in Game 6. It’s must see TV, unless you have little ones and/or you don’t like a series of bleeps, because you’re going to get some of that.

Also, if any readers out there are friends with Manny Pacquiao, tell him to tune in. If he doesn’t get FS North, he can watch the entire episode after the original airing on his favorite website, Wild.com.

Wild Signs Gillies to Two-Year Contract

The news keeps on coming from the Minnesota Wild Hockey Operations department, with the latest announcement made at lunchtime Wednesday: the Wild has signed restricted free agent Colton Gillies to a two-year contract.

The 22-year-old left wing was a major factor in the Houston Aeros’ run to the Calder Cup Finals this spring. He tied the team lead with seven playoff goals and ranked third on the club with 12 points (7-5=12) in 24 playoff games. The 6-4, 208-pound winger posted 26 points (11-15=26) and 82 penalty minutes in 64 regular season games with the Aeros in 2010-11.

Gillies also played seven games with the Wild, scoring one goal, a tally in the Wild’s 5-3 win over Dallas in the season finale. For the first time in his Wild career, he has not been asked to skate in this July’s Wild Development Camp for prospects. Gillies will come into this fall’s training camp looking to stay with the big club, having previously skated 45 games with the Wild in the 2008-09 season, recording seven points (2-5=7). The native of White Rock, B.C., was Minnesota’s first-round pick (No. 16 overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Wild Signs Powe, Taffe; “Becoming Wild” Premieres July 8

Good afternoon, Wild fans!

There was plenty of big Wild news over the 4th of July holiday and there continued to be more announcements today. OK, so maybe today’s news isn’t quite at “blockbuster” level like the trade Sunday night, but there is certainly plenty of cool stuff to tell you about.

Firstly, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher announced this afternoon that the Wild has signed center Darroll Powe to a three-year contract and center Jeff Taffe to a one-year, two-way contract.  You’ll remember, the Wild acquired the 26-year-old Powe from Philadelphia for a 2013 third-round draft pick on June 27 and held his rights as a restricted free agent. He registered 17 points (7-10=17) and 41 PIM in 81 games for Philly last season, leading the Flyers with 196 hits and setting career highs in assists and points. The Saskatoon, Sask., native played three NHL seasons with the Flyers after signing as a free agent out of Princeton University. It was also announced that Powe will wear No. 14 with the Wild. Hear what Powe had to say about the contract here.

Many Minnesota hockey fans remember Taffe, the former Golden Gopher from Hastings. The 30-year-old notched 67 points (30-37=67) in 74 games for the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs last season, skating in one game with the Chicago Blackhawks. The 1999 Mr. Hockey Minnesota has posted 44 points in 175 NHL games with Phoenix, the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Florida and Chicago. Stay up to date with all of the Wild signings on the transactions page and contract chart on wild.com

Of course, many fans are still talking about the trade the Wild made Sunday night with San Jose, acquiring Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat. If you were too busy having picnics and lighting fireworks to get all of the details on the deal, click here for audio, video and more. The Hockey Lodge also sent over the first photo of Heatley’s new Wild jersey, which is currently available at the Xcel Energy Center Hockey Lodge location and is available for pre-orders on hockeylodge.com. It’ll take some time to get used to the new names on the No. 10 and 15 jerseys, but there have been plenty of fans making us aware that they are excited to see the former Sharks skate with the Wild.

Secondly, the Wild also announced today that it has named John Torchetti as new head coach of the Houston Aeros. Torchetti fills the spot of Mike Yeo, who of course left Houston to become the new Wild head coach. The 46-year-old Boston native comes to the Aeros after serving as an associate coach for the Atlanta Thrashers last season. His 27 years of professional hockey experience as a player, coach and manager include NHL coaching experience with Tampa Bay, Florida, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta. For the full announcement and audio of Torchetti’s reaction to the announcement, click here.

Finally, the Wild announced a really cool project with FOX Sports North and Olson that I’d bet Wild fans will love. “Becoming Wild,” presented by Toyota, is a six-part TV series that documents the Wild offseason through unprecedented, behind-the-scenes coverage of the hockey operations department. I’d say it’s similar to the NHL’s 24-7 series on HBO this year. One of the best parts about the series, which will premiere on July 8 after the Twins game on FS North, is that filming started before any of this summer’s excitement and drama happened, meaning it was caught on camera and fans will get to see it. For more on the series, including broadcast dates and clips of the premiere episode, click here. Outtakes and full episodes will be available on wild.com after the premiere of that episode airs on FS North. I was lucky enough to get to watch the first episode, which covers the Aeros run to the Calder Cup Finals, and will tell you two things: 1. I don’t know how anyone will watch the episode and not be incredibly excited to see Mike Yeo coach the Wild and 2. While the coaches-healthy scratches scrimmage is a great scene, not all of the best parts are given away in the preview clips. There’s a Matt Kassian vs. the rest of the team discussion about whether he could fight Manny Pacquiao that could well be a fan favorite.

Yeo Finalizes Coaching Staff

It will be announced later today that Mike Yeo has concluded his search for an assistant coaching staff. In addition to retaining Rick Wilson, Darby Hendrickson and Bob Mason, Yeo has hired Darryl Sydor, who was an assistant in Houston last season.

Sydor is obviously familiar with Yeo, but he also knows Wilson very well. Wilson coached Sydor as an assistant with the Dallas Stars, and the two were members of the 1999 Stars team that captured the Stanley Cup.

The hiring of Sydor means the Houston Aeros will have a completely new look behind the bench this season. Yeo’s other assistant, Brian Wiseman, recently accepted an assistant position with the University of Michigan, his alma mater.

There will be more on the staff hirings on Wild.com today.

 

Wiseman Headed Back To Michigan

With success comes new opportunities, and following a fantastic run by the Houston Aeros to the Calder Cup finals, Aeros assistant Brian Wiseman jumped on a chance to join his college team.

According to the University of Michigan’s athletics site, Wiseman has accepted a job as an assistant to Red Berenson. Wiseman, who completed his first year as an assistant to Mike Yeo in Houston, played with the Wolverines from 1991 to 1994 and was a Hobey Baker finalist in his senior season.

Wiseman replaces longtime Michigan assistant Mel Pearson, who is the new head coach of the Michigan Tech Huskies.

Currently, Darryl Sydor, who just completed his first year as a coach, is the remaining assistant under Yeo.

Granlund Has Begun Military Service; Aeros Have Bulletin Board Material

Earlier this summer, Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu began serving his Finnish military service, which all Finnish men are expected to do at some point. Mikael Granlund, the Wild’s first round pick last year, is also serving in the Finnish military this summer.

Apparently, Koivu and Granlund are A-list celebrities with journalists following their every move since helping Finland capture the gold medal at the World Championship. One Finnish newspaper published this Granlund paper doll game. You can either have hockey Granlund or G.I. Granlund. Or, a mix of both.

Tonight, the Houston Aeros will look to keep their Calder Cup hopes alive when they face the Binghamton Senators in Game 6 of the Finals. The Baby Sens hold a 3-2 advantage, and the city of Binghamton has already announced its parade route for the champions.

The only thing better than the Aeros winning the next two games, would be if they made one more trip back to Binghamton and marched along the parade route in their Aeros jerseys.

I’m willing to contribute to the cause of flying Houston players out there. I’ve got five bucks burning a hole in my pocket.